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Thai king Maha Vajiralongkorn and queen Suthida take the Tube as they open new subway station

Thai King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun and Queen Suthida put on a brave face as they took the tube as part of the inauguration of a new subway station in Bangkok on Saturday. 

The royal couple sat on the subway train on padded cushions for the opening of the new extension of the Metropolitan Rapid Transit (MRT) Blue Line, as men dressed in uniforms sat on the floor of the carriage while they waved. 

The King and Queen’s visit comes as the country appears divided, with royalists rallying in the streets to cheer on the monarch while pro-democracy protesters raised a Hunger Games three-finger salute at an anti-monarch rally.  

Thai King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun and Queen Suthida put on a brave face as they took the tube as part of the inauguration of a new subway station in Bangkok

The royal couple sat on the subway train on padded cushions for the opening of the new extension of the Metropolitan Rapid Transit (MRT) Blue Line, as men dressed in uniforms sat on the floor of the carriage while they waved

The royal couple sat on the subway train on padded cushions for the opening of the new extension of the Metropolitan Rapid Transit (MRT) Blue Line, as men dressed in uniforms sat on the floor of the carriage while they waved

Pro-democracy protesters flash the three-finger ay night

Pro-democracy protesters flash the three-finger Hunger Games salute during an anti-government protest at the Democracy Monument in Bangkok on Saturday night

Meanwhile, pro-democracy protesters rallied in the centre of the city, taking an opportunity to display their rejection of the country’s power structure directly to the monarch.

The protesters raised their hands in a three-finger salute popularised by the Hunger Games novels and films, which features the gesture being used to unite a revolution. 

The salute has been an increasingly common site among pro-democracy groups in Bangkok in recent weeks and was previously adopted by the now-dissolved opposition Future Forward party in 2018.

Some 20 groups called the rally at Bangkok’s Democracy Monument under the name ‘Mob Fest’ as the latest in a series of protests calling for significant reforms in government.

Meanwhile Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida greet thousands of royalists as they inaugurate a new subway station, on the outskirts of the city

Meanwhile Thailand’s King Maha Vajiralongkorn and Queen Suthida greet thousands of royalists as they inaugurate a new subway station, on the outskirts of the city

Pro-democracy protesters rallied across Bangkok, taking an opportunity to display their rejection of the country's power structure directly to the monarch

Pro-democracy protesters rallied across Bangkok, taking an opportunity to display their rejection of the country’s power structure directly to the monarch

They climbed the monument on Saturday night to unfurl a giant banner scribbled with anti-government slogans and calls to reform the monarchy. 

The core demands of the main student-led protest movement are that Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha step down, the constitution be amended to make it more democratic, and the monarchy be reformed to be made more accountable.

The demand over the monarchy is the most controversial because the royal institution is traditionally regarded as the heart and soul of the nation, and to be treated with the utmost respect. 

Thousands of royalists gathered to show their support for the Thai King after pro-democracy protesters held street protests calling for a monarchy reform

Thousands of royalists gathered to show their support for the Thai King after pro-democracy protesters held street protests calling for a monarchy reform

Thai King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun (centre-left) and Thai Queen Suthida (centre-right) greet royalists as they walk out of a MRT train station after the opening ceremony of the new extension of the Metropolitan Rapid Transit (MRT) Blue Line in Bangkok, Thailand, today

Thai King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun (centre-left) and Thai Queen Suthida (centre-right) greet royalists as they walk out of a MRT train station after the opening ceremony of the new extension of the Metropolitan Rapid Transit (MRT) Blue Line in Bangkok, Thailand, today

A pro-democracy protester wearing a Salvador Dali mask from the Netflix series 'Money Heist' gestures in front of the Democracy Monument covered with a sheet painted with anti-government slogans during an anti-government protest at the Democracy Monument in Bangkok, Thailand, on Saturday night

A pro-democracy protester wearing a Salvador Dali mask from the Netflix series ‘Money Heist’ gestures in front of the Democracy Monument covered with a sheet painted with anti-government slogans during an anti-government protest at the Democracy Monument in Bangkok, Thailand, on Saturday night

In the afternoon, high school students and other pro-democracy demonstrators wrote in marker pens and spray-painted messages on giant white sheets.

‘You have been stealing my bright future,’ one message said. ‘Democracy will win.’

Bangkok graphic designer Pearl, 25, watched as a group of protesters used ladders to climb up the three-metre (nine-foot) high central turret of the Democracy Monument, as musicians played a drum beat.

‘This is a symbolic act of free speech,’ she said.

epa08819846 Thai King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun and Thai Queen Suthida greet royalists after the opening ceremony of the new extension of the Metropolitan Rapid Transit (MRT) Blue Line in Bangkok

epa08819846 Thai King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun and Thai Queen Suthida greet royalists after the opening ceremony of the new extension of the Metropolitan Rapid Transit (MRT) Blue Line in Bangkok

It is protected by a law that makes defaming the monarch punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

In the afternoon angry high school students calling themselves the Bad Student movement rallied outside the Thailand education ministry before marching to join the main rally.

They want Education Minister Nataphol Teepsuwan to resign and staged a fake funeral for him.

Thousands of royalists gathered to show their support for the Thai King after pro-democracy protesters held street protests calling for a monarchy reform

Students led pro-democracy protesters carry a portrait of Education Minister Nataphol Teepsuwan followed by a mock coffin and a white cloth during a street march in Bangkok, Thailand, on Saturday

Students led pro-democracy protesters carry a portrait of Education Minister Nataphol Teepsuwan followed by a mock coffin and a white cloth during a street march in Bangkok, Thailand, on Saturday

Students led pro-democracy protesters carry a portrait of Education Minister Nataphol Teepsuwan followed by a mock coffin and a white cloth during a street march in Bangkok, Thailand, on Saturday

‘He has failed to reform the education system so he is dead to us,’ Anna, 15, said as she put flowers into a wooden coffin, next to a picture of the minister.

The students are calling for an overhaul of the school system, curriculum, strict rules, dress codes and standardised haircuts.

Thai authorities deployed 8,000 police to patrol Saturday’s protest, which is expected to go until midnight.  

Police used water cannon against demonstrators at a rally last Sunday. It was only the second time such tactics were used.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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